OXFORD — A federal grand jury in Oxford has indicted two men in a medical kickback and bribery scheme.
The 10-count federal indictment charged 38-year-old Raymond Lamont Shoemaker of Tupelo with a nursing services kickback and bribery conspiracy, receiving kickbacks for nursing services, conspiracy to commit and committing healthcare fraud, making false statements and embezzlement from Tri-Lakes Medical Center.
Shoemaker is a former COO at the hospital.
The indictments also charged 66-year-old Earnest Levi Garner Jr. of Batesville with a nursing services kickback and bribery conspiracy, engaging in a healthcare fraud conspiracy and healthcare fraud, and bribery, all in connection with Tri-Lakes Medical Center.
Both men appeared before federal magistrate yesterday and were released on a $50,000 secured bond each. Trial dates have not yet been set.
Shoemaker faces up to 80 years in prison and $2.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
Garner faces up to 25 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
Both could be ordered to pay restitution to victims.
Garner operated and controlled nursing staffing companies, including Guardian Angel Nursing and O-Call Staffing, which were in the name of a family member, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Shoemaker conspired with Garner and then-Panola County administrator David Chandler, who was also president of the medical center’s board, and unnamed others in the bribery scheme. Chandler is not charged in the indictment.
According to the indictment, the scheme began when Garner agreed to pay Chandler a kickback and bribe of $5 per hour for every hour of nursing services that Garner’s companies billed the medical center. From March 2005 to about July 2007, that amounted to $268,000, according to the indictment.
In return, Chandler would influence the hospital board to use more of Garner’s services, the indictment says.
The conspiracy allegedly began in May 2005, when the county and city of Batesville owned the hospital, which was sold on Nov. 15, 2005, to Shoemaker’s Physician and Surgeons Hospital Group for $27.3 million.
Chandler was the liaison between Garner and Shoemaker, allegedly funneling kickbacks from Garner to the former CEO, according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges Shoemaker in 2008 embezzled more than $40,000 from Humphreys County Hospital, which he first managed and then purchased, to remodel a mobile home in Ackerman for his profit-making business with Choctaw County Medical Center’s outpatient psychiatric services.
The allegations of false statements to the FBI stem from interviews with Shoemaker on Oct. 22, 2009, and March 4, 2010, in which he allegedly at first denied getting money from Chandler and, when shown copies of the checks, said he’d borrowed the money, according to the indictment.
“When individuals and companies attempt to pervert the health care system, it is our healthcare consumers and taxpayers who suffer the consequences,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District John Marshall Alexander said in the news release.
Said Dan McMullen, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi: “Waste, fraud and abuse take critical resources out of our healthcare system and contribute to the rising cost of health care for all Americans.”
Source: The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal